Zero-dimensional chess — Crooked Timber

One reason I’m thinking a fair bit about the long term future is that immediate prospects look grim, particularly in the US.

According to this piece from the NY Times on Obama’s post-election plan

After two years of operating at loggerheads with Republicans, Mr. Obama and his aides are planning a post-election agenda for a very different political climate. They see potential for bipartisan cooperation on reducing the deficit, passing stalled free-trade pacts and revamping the education bill known as No Child Left Behind — work that Arne Duncan, Mr. Obama’s education secretary, says could go a long way toward repairing “the current state of anger and animosity.”

Translation: Mr Obama and his aides plan a series of pre-emptive capitulations, after which the Republicans will demand the repeal of the healthcare act (or maybe abolition of Social Security). When/if that is refused, the Repugs will shut down the government, and this time they will hold their nerve until Obama folds.

BTW, the only thing I knew about Arne Duncan before this was that he was a fair country (ie Australian NBL) basketball player. But reading his bio (corporate-style charter school booster, fan of incentives based on standardised tests etc) along with the fact that he’s in close with Obama is indicative of why things have gone so badly in this administration.

36 thoughts on “Zero-dimensional chess — Crooked Timber

  1. The Anglo ‘left’ parties died a long time ago, the late 80’s to the 90’s basically. Clinton/Blair/Langy/Hawke-Keating basically had the same theme. Talk left (and throw some social bones, which to be fair H-K were much better at than the others) and do right economically.

    Clinton gutting social security and manufacturing there (plus deregulation, especially finance, and wars), Keating captured by Stone’s Treasury (social security held here but manufacturing was gutted and deregulation abounded), Blair’s ‘New’ Labour (more manufacturing gutting and even more deregulation).

    Hard to escape the the conclusion that these were just neo-liberal parties which put fig leaves out to cover their actions. In fact it was these parties that did the bulk of the heavy lifting in many areas, not the conservative ones prior or after them.

    Even Reagan was scared to hit social security as hard as Clinton did (though he smashed the unions pretty effectively). Ditto Blair and deregulation and the hidden privitisations of the PPPs, far more neo-liberal than Thatcher in many ways. Or the huge unilateral tariff cuts of H-K that the Coalition would never had the courage to do.

    The politics are fascinating, by the left parties advancing large parts of the neo-liberal (and their far more dangerous cousins the neo-cons) agendas, large amounts of potential opposition were nullified (you can see the same sort of thing in the US today, since Obhama got in the left anti-war movement has died, even though he has actually expanded the wars).

    The mechanisms are not well documented, though the Stone-Keating nexus was pretty well covered at the time by outlier publications like The Eye (which the Govt drove to bankruptcy). Plus Clinton’s and Bliar’s money grubbing activities (deliberate sics) especially post power.

    Definitely a fruitful area for research, make a great book, if it was ever able to be published of course.

  2. @paul walter
    Paul for the purposes of this thread one dimensional chess could mean playing with yourself. It can be done with the right amount of spin.

    For all the grand speeches to the pawns at election time – the kings are still off their heads.

  3. @Fran Barlow

    Fran, I don’t think it is fair to say that Americans don’t do irony. What about the stand-up comedians who wanted the Obama administration to “keep their government hands off my Medicare”? Or how about the way America boasts of being the land of the free, and then imprisons such a large percentage of its population?

    No, I thoroughly enjoy their sick sense of humour.

  4. I had my own wake up call yesterday, attending a march and meeting in Adeleaide protesting the new Rann “open slather; done in secret”, “development ” policy, which imposes both on established Adelaide- suburbs like mine subject to misappropriation of amenities thru secret deals with “developers” and the wholesale smashing of the often beautiful, fertile and productive fringe areas of the Barossa, Fleurieu and Adelaide hills, for the worst of real estate “development”.
    All done thru a mix of secret arrangements, culminating in the absolute unleishing of untrammelled development, post election.
    Alice, I had a “blue” response on the tip of my tongue after #28, but because you are a lady will not proceed further, for fear of offending a more refined sensibility.

  5. @OldSkeptic

    There is no large viable moderate left party to vote for. They all turned right wing long ago. I guess we have the Greens. The Greens will be proven right eventually (or perhaps quite soon) when the environment’s capacity to sustain us collapses.

  6. I’m hoping the Greens keep getting stronger; the Labor party may suffer in the short term but in the longer run they will simply have to wear it and form regular coalitions with the Greens if they want to be in government. The Greens at least have clear goals concerning the environmental changes we are in the process of making.

  7. Donald Oats, I think the ALP realises this itself, that’s why its making hay while the sun shines now, as to “development”.
    I daresay you’re right.
    But will there be anything left to salvage by the time sanity returns?

  8. I don’t think anyone really knows what is going to happen in Washington. My Tea Party friends think they have shaken the foundations of Washington — but none of them know who John Boehner is, nor do any of them have any swat with Mitch McConnell. The more rational of the TPers say they voted to end gridlock, but Sen. McConnell has promised more gridlock to stop the government from functioning. If the TPers have any clout, they may march on McConnell next.

    Down at 1600 Pennsylvania, they may have finally gotten the message that they need to move more quickly to disassemble the Bush machine — but they got that message from the BP blowout in the Gulf, not from any rational analysis of how to stop the slide of the U.S.

    Meanwhile, McConnell and Boehner propose exactly the wrong solutions to the nation’s current economic messes, and Obama, though not an economist, has good enough advisers to know better.

    It’s a series of crises, some of them not clearly related to each other, but each of them rooted in the Republican laissez faire attitudes of the last decade.

    It’s is now a good time to pray that our governmental institutions are strong enough to withstand the chaos likely to result in the next few months. Who can seize the levers of power? No one knows, especially not those who want to seize the levers.

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